Genealogy Lesson for the Laity


The genome of my aunt is in the family.
Straitlaced, she drank gin
from under the sink, worked hard,
flew in the sky and was forlorn.
Did you know her?

She lived in all our neighborhoods.
We loved to solve her crosswords
and steal rhubarb tarts
and sneak a peek at her rubber girdle.

It was a hard lesson for an eighteen-year-old.
I could be sassy and she’d slap the song out of my lungs.
Her old bromides aside, gloom could tread and tread
our tangles and tug at her hem.

I buried my key to her house
in the skirts of the weeping willow.
Spring nailed its velvet wrist
to my outstretched arm.